Wednesday, April 11, 2012

how (and why) to block crochet and knit projects {tutorial}

Until recently, I had never taken the time to block a crochet project. Why? Because I didn't have a fancy blocking board (and didn't want to spend the money on one). But then I finished a beautiful infinity scarf for a friend (found the free pattern here), and it just didn't look as good as the picture! It didn't lay flat and it was hard to see how pretty the pattern stitch was. I was totally disappointed and ready to find a new birthday gift for my friend. But instead of letting all that work go to waste, I decided to try blocking it. Wow. I was so amazed at the difference! My scarf was saved.

Blocking a crochet or knit piece gives it shape and sets the stitches in that shape. It can also help smooth out wrinkles or crooked rows in a project. It's pretty easy and doesn't take long to do, and it's soooo worth it! Here's my easy method (there are lots out there, I'm sure) that doesn't require a blocking board. Just some pins, a spray bottle, a tape measure, and some plastic wrap! This method works best for square or rectangular projects (blankets, scarves), but you could also use it for clothing items.

Here's my latest crochet project before (remember this looks-like-knit crochet baby blanket pattern from the other day?). . .

And the after. Better, right? I honestly could not smooth out the wrinkles in the first picture. Now the afghan lays flat.

How to Block a Crochet or Knit Project

*Finished fiber project
*Bare mattress
*Spray bottle full of water
*Pearl head pins
*Plastic wrap or plastic garbage sack larger than your project

1. Remove linens from your mattress. Lay out plastic wrap in sheets, overlapping a little, until you have an area larger than your project covered in plastic wrap. You could also use a plastic garbage bag if you have one bigger than your piece.

2. Lay your project on top of the plastic wrap. Smooth it out the best you can. Using a sewing measuring tape, find the longest and widest points (for square or rectangular projects). Mine were 35". Place a pin in the ends of the longest and widest edges.

3.  Begin placing pins about 1 inch apart along one edge.
 Use a ruler to help you keep it straight if you need to.

4. Using your tape measure, pin the opposite side, being sure you don't stretch it to longer than your longest length. So for this project, I measured 35" from the first pinned side and pinned the opposite side to that measurement all the way across.

Repeat until the entire project is shaped and pinned down. 

5. Spray the piece with water. You want it pretty wet--it needs to soak into the fibers. Allow to stay in place until completely dry. This yarn dried within a few hours, but other types of yarn may take longer to dry, so you might need to find another place to sleep! 

Once it's dry, it's blocked and you can remove the pins. No more waves or wrinkles! Yea!

You can also try this on a plush carpet if you don't want to use your bed. As long as the pins will stay in place it will work. Even though blocking takes some extra time, it is well worth the effort!

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20 Responses to “how (and why) to block crochet and knit projects {tutorial}”

Kayleen said...

I didn't even know what blocking meant. Great tutorial it almost makes me want to crochet something, almost.

Little Birdie Secrets said...

You crack me up, K!

stefani said...

Thanks for the step-by-step. There are more steps than I realized.

I have never had to block a finished project but I will be blocking a project soon and I am glad to know about the plastic. It never crossed my mind to use it. I also would have never thought to use a measuring tape. I can just imagine now what a disaster I probably would have had. lol

Rachael said...

I've never blocked anything, which probably makes me a bad crocheter! Although I can see from your examples how much it helps your work.

Sandy said...

I have been crocheting for years and rarely block anything... I like this method, and I can use the bed in our spare bedroom that is not often used. Thanks so much for sharing this :)

Kelly J. R. said...

I don't have a fancy blocking board either. I put a few towels down on the floor of a carpeted room we don't go into very often. Then I just pin my project right into the towels and the carpet. No harm done! I'm always amazed by how blocking can turn a crappy looking project into something that's actually nice!

Megn said...

I love this thank you!!

Maggie and Sheepie said...

Never heard of this, but can see how it will be very helpful.

Crafty Dreamer said...

This is great. Instead of the bed I use the click together foam pieces (kids have alphabet ones but I found 3 feet squares) and then place a towel on top and then pin etc. Thanks. Love the blog!

Logan and Sydney said...

And if you really don't want to do it yourself, your local dry cleaner will do it for you. That's what I do:)

andreak said...

I blocked projects for the first time this past fall. They look so much nicer. I also used lavender water. Just a couple of drops of lavender essential oil in your spray bottle and Voila! clean fresh smelling room and project.

stefani said...

I like the idea of using lavender water. I will have to try that. :-)

Kalei said...

Nice I didn't even know what blocking was!

I was wondering, how do you wash the blanket? and will you need to block it again after you wash it?

Little Birdie Secrets said...

Wow, I didn't know the dry cleaner would do it! Sweet!

Lavendar water--awesome idea! I am going to try that!

Yes, if you wash your project you'll have to block it again. But if you handwash it and lay it out to dry, you're halfway there! ;)

Helen B. @ Blue Eyed Beauty Blog said...

This is a good thing to know since I plan to make my own wash cloths!

I am stopping over via a pin on Pinterest!

Blue Eyed Beauty Blog

stella abner said...

Do you need to do this everytime you wash it...

LainieC said...

For Afghan squares, I use a new bathroom mat - the new kind made of foam. I turned it upside down and used a square block to draw squares on it with a permanent marker. Easy peasy to block the sqares as I go along.

prchrs2 said...

This is very good information. I believe there are an awful lot of ladies out there who might love this information. Is there a way to send off to f/b rooms? Thank you, Nancy

k said...

Need help...I've started blocking the completed squares as some were larger or narrower than others. I've never done this before, but am using a bulletin board, towel, and then crochet square. I then anchor it with solid brass pins & wet down with spray bottle of water & letting dry. Now the ones that needed to be stretched a little wider are responding great, but I have some that are 1" to 1.5" to tall or wide. I'm using red heart super saver for square and red heart love for border. Any options other than doing the square again? In picture yellow/purple one is great, but one underneath is 1" too long and 1.5" too wide after trying to reduce it with blocking(it was even larger before)

Michelle M. said...

Do you have to reblock every time after you wash the item?

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